We're approaching the end of August, and, like every year, that means the MLB season is starting to get interesting. Teams are jostling in the standings for playoff positions, and both the drama, and calibre of baseball is starting to increase. If you're interested, but mostly unfamiliar with the sport, the late summer months are the best time for the budding fan to "dive in" to America's national pastime, and take a trip to the ballpark.
You should be prepared, however. So: if you've never seen a live game before, and are planning to before the end of the season, here are five people you will encounter shortly after you find your seats:
1.) The Entertainer
Every section has at least one; the loudmouthed buffoon who feels it's his duty to destroy the opposing team's collective self-esteem with an endless series of put-downs, and derogatory chants.
He (and I use the male pronoun deliberately -- I've never seen a woman do this) may come up with the odd entertaining or witty remark concerning an opposing player's lack of skill, or excess body fat, but for the most part he's annoying as hell, and with every lame insult your disdain for him grows. And as the game wears on and the beer flows and he continues to scream and shout at every new batter, you start entertaining fantasies about a foul ball striking him on the temple and killing him dead.
2.) The Texting Girl
Why is she here? No seriously, why is she here? She looks cute in her ladies jersey, you'll give her that, but she's barely put down her phone since the first pitch. She's taken a series of selfies with her boyfriend, Jose Reyes, and the Philly Fanatic, and taken additional photos of her beer, hot dog, peanuts, even the damned Cracker Jacks box. If she's excited to be here, great. But she's watched about a minute and a half of the actual game, and these seats ain't cheap.
You start to pity her boyfriend who, unlike his lady companion, actually seems to give a shit about baseball.
3.) The Scorekeeper
The Scorekeeper is usually wearing running shoes, shorts and long white socks that come up to his knee, an ancient polo shirt and a cheap visor. He gets the job done the old fashioned way -- with a pencil, and a blank scorecard that came with the program he bought outside the stadium. You start to wonder why people still bother recording the score inning-by-inning in the first place, but then you realize he's probably done it at every baseball game he's ever been to, and he's not going to stop now.
You can't guess his age because you can't count that high. You overhear him share an anecdote about playing baseball in college against Ty Cobb, and he's old enough for you to believe it.
4.) The Drunk
He meanders, he swears, he's mostly unaware. The Drunk could be The Entertainer's uncle, but they approach alcoholism from slightly different perspectives. The Entertainer's drunkenness serves to embolden his insults, and entertain his friends, while The Drunk gets drunk because that's who he is as a man. The game is immaterial; it's a weekday night, and like every weekday night, he's in the process of getting absolutely sloshed.
His voice is hoarse, his body odor pungent, and you wonder how the hell he got to the stadium in the first place, as he doesn't seem to have any friends with him. Security will kick him out by the fifth inning, much to the delight of everyone within a five-seat radius.
5.) The Guy Who's Just Happy To Be Here
He's your typical 2.5 kids, mortgage-touting, suburbanite Joe, who's been looking forward to Friday's game all week. (He asked his wife to wash his jersey way back on Monday to ensure it would be ready in time for the game.) He works long hours at a job he hates, but he's forgotten about all that this evening. He wears his favorite baseball cap and a perma-grin, relishing his $11 beer while trying his best to explain the intricacies of the sport to his six- and nine-year-old sons. The eldest begins teasing and beating on his little brother by the fifth inning, until Dad separates them by taking the seat in the middle.
Despite the stress involved with supervising two energetic young boys, he is content. He's excited to bring them to their first baseball game, and flashes back to memories of his own father taking him decades before. And as his six-year-old's eyes widen as they first enter the park, smell the popcorn, and see the field, he's reminded why he works so hard during the week. And, in that moment, it's all worthwhile.